These days, it’s rare the one gets the chance to see Audrey Hepburn on the big screen. But, this Sunday, local movie buffs will be able to do just that.
As a part of its continuing efforts to raise the funds to transition from film to a digital projection system, Dagsboro’s Clayton Theatre will be holding “An Evening at The Clayton.”
“We just thought it was a good opportunity to get the word out that we’re still trying to raise money. I was talking to David Martin, the director of the Bethany-Fenwick Chamber,” recalled Joanne Howe, owner of the Clayton Theatre. “He had mentioned they’d like to do some sort of an event at the Clayton. So we decided to put this together to help us raise funds for the projection system.”
“The Clayton has been a longtime member of the Chamber. In the time I’ve been here, I’ve gotten to know Joanne well and became aware of the effort on their part to switch to digital — not because they were ready to, but because of Kodak going out of business, and Fuji announcing they weren’t going to make film anymore,” said Martin.
“It was really a crisis for them. The more that I got to know them, and the more that I got to know the theater, the more I realized how many people that live in this area love that place. I thought we had to do something to help them to get a little closer to the goal of becoming a state of the art digital theater but still remain unique and historic.”
Tickets for the April 14 event cost $25 per person, which includes a pre-show Hollywood champagne reception at 6 p.m., tours of the historic theater, a “film-to-digital” raffle, and a free soda and popcorn to accompany the screening of the classic “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” at 7 p.m.
“‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ is one of the most requested films that I’ve had, so we thought that would be a fun movie to show,” explained Howe. “The event itself — we’re going to open up our projection booth upstairs before the movie, so people can go up and see the old projection equipment that we’re still using. Charlie, our projectionist, will be up there showing everyone around.
“In keeping with the breakfast theme, we’re going to be serving champagne and mimosas,” she noted. “We have Chef Charles Oppman coming in. He has offered his services and will set up a station where he will make and do demonstrations on cooking crêpes and frittatas, and we’ll have samples of those to give out to everybody, as well as other appetizers.”
Howe said that, so far, the Clayton has raised approximately $24,000 of the estimated $100,000 it will cost to switch over from the theater’s original 1948 Motiograph projectors running 35mm film to a digital projection system.
“We’re moving right along, but we’re still a little slow,” said Howe. “I’ve spoken with the gentleman that’s giving us quotes on the new equipment. He told me that some of the pricing is starting to come down — not by much, but it is starting to come down. That’s a good thing.
“There’s new, more compact, equipment that’s starting to come online that we might want to look at to use in our theater,” she explained. “He said this equipment would work well in our theater because of the size of the theater. The only thing is, right now it’s in the first generation, so there’s concern there.
“We’re still getting great support from the community,” she added. “Our Monday-night film series has been doing so well, and that’s been very helpful in putting money into the projection system.”
Along with the gala, the Clayton will continue with its Monday Classics, showing musicals for the month of April. This month’s lineup includes “Meet Me in St. Louis” starring Judy Garland on April 15, followed by “Gypsy” starring Rosalind Russell and Natalie Wood on April 22, and “Some Like It Hot” starring Jack Lemmon, Tony Curtis and Marilyn Monroe on April 29.
May will be ’50s Month, complete with old cars and great movies.
“On May 4, Jake’s Wayback Burgers is going to be doing a Cruise-In and try to help raise money for the Clayton Theatre. People bring their old cars and hang out, and a small percentage of the food sold during that time will go toward the Clayton. That’ll kick off our ’50s Month.”
For May’s Clayton Classics, which run at 7 p.m. on Monday nights for $4 per ticket, the first film, shown on May 6, will be “American Graffiti,” starring Richard Dreyfuss and Ron Howard.
“We have a couple of the gentlemen who own cars similar to those in the movie who will bring them to the theater to be on display so people can see them,” said Howe, adding that the series will continue with a screening of “Grease” on May 13 and an Elvis Presley film on May 20.
“I think we’re going to try to continue the Clayton Classics for a while, maybe through the Fourth of July. We have an awful lot of fans of the theater who do come for the summer. It might be fun to do something while they’re all in town.”
Another special event will be held on May 12 at 7:30 p.m., for Mother’s Day, with a live performance by “Oh Boy! A Tribute to Buddy Holly.”
“We’re going to have the cars again at the theater for that. It’s going to be a live performance,” Howe explained. “They basically tell the story of Buddy Holly through his music. It’s supposed to be a really good show. These guys have performed at SunFest, up in Wilmington, at the bandstands in Rehoboth and Bethany Beach… We’re excited to have them. They came to us and wanted to know if there was something they could do to help us raise money, and offered to do one of their shows.”
Howe said she continues to be overwhelmed by outpouring of community support to the Clayton’s efforts, and she hopes it will carry on.
“I’m just pleased the community has rallied behind us. It’s really touched all of us and has been great to have that support.”
“This is an event for anyone who loves classic movies, that loves that theater, that doesn’t want to see the last single-screen theater in Delaware go away,” added Martin of the April 14 event. “I’m really hoping we can fill the place and get them closer to their goal of becoming a digital theater, but remaining historic and unique, like a lot of the community down here.”
For more information, visit www.theclaytontheater.com or www.facebook.com/pages/The-Clayton-Theatre. To reserve tickets, call (302) 732-3744. The Clayton Theatre is located at 900 Main Street in Dagsboro.